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Looking for a great job in IT? The cloud is hiring

Bill Snyder | Sept. 25, 2012
IT is moving to the cloud -- and so are the jobs. Here's how to cash in on the hot trend in tech hiring

So pervasive is the cloud or, in some cases, the idea of the cloud, that a recent analysis of national help-wanted ads by Wanted Analytics found cloud computing is now entering the job description of non-IT positions, including marketing managers, sales managers, customer service representatives, and even cargo and freight agents.

Consider the huge demand for IT hires at Amazon Web Services, the largest public cloud provider. AWS currently has "many hundreds" of openings related to cloud computing. At other times, it's had upward of 1,000, says Adam Selipsky, Amazon's VP of Web services.

Despite the high demand, salaries are hardly exploding. The average salary in Dice's cloud listings is $86,300, an increase of less than 6 percent in the past 12 months. That tracks with research InfoWorld has done since the recession bottomed out two years ago: IT departments are simply unwilling to let salaries escalate too rapidly.

Cloud novice? No problemBecause the cloud is relatively new, executives at most of the companies we spoke with say that the right candidates don't necessarily have to have extensive cloud experience. "A great software engineer is a great software engineer. We believe in hiring great talent," says Amazon's Selipsky. He looks for "bright, talented, motivated people who are the right cultural fit. Those are the people who generally succeed."

More specifically, Amazon is hiring software development engineers, including some with experience deeper down in the stack for infrastructure services and networking. Other hiring needs include developers who can work with AWS's point-and-click management console.

That's not to say that working in the cloud is the same as yesterday's software job. "Cloud offerings are intrinsically a service. There's an emphasis on high levels of availability, reliability, and service," says Selipsky. If you can demonstrate that you've built something that meets those requirements, Amazon and other providers want to talk to you.

Some of the jobs have titles new to IT. "Lately we have a push to hire devops, a hybrid of an operations engineer who also does scripting," says Rackspace's James. "They are really systems engineers who work in a development environment." Rackspace isn't the only company hiring devops. On any given day, there are roughly 200 listings for devops on Dice, the jobs board reports.

Since Rackspace emphasizes its open approach, it's not surprising that experience with Linux is high on James' list. He's also looking for hands-on scripting experience with Python and Ruby, as well as a thorough understanding of networking and DNS. What languages are preferred? "In no particular order, Java, C#, C++, Ruby, and Ruby on Rails," he says.

What James, who has a decade and a half of experience as an IT recruiter, doesn't want to see are developers who are overly loyal to a particular language or platform. That was OK 10 years ago, but now "we want to see candidates that are more well-rounded. In the cloud space the folks we seek always want to be on the cutting edge."


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